2024 Honoree

Priscilla Bassett

civil rights activist

Priscilla Tietjen Bassett started working for a better world—a world of peace and justice for everyone—in the 1940s, and she hasn’t stopped. Since the 1990s, she has been a leading advocate for seniors’ benefits and services in Sullivan County, working with the Seniors Legislative Action Committee to protect Medicare and Social Security. In her 90s, she worked particularly hard advocating for New York Health, the universal health care bill, and to protect the rights of immigrants. Her lifetime of activism started early—while attending Smith College, she met her husband, Emmett W. Bassett, at a protest of a segregated restaurant in Massachusetts. They combined forces to work for civil rights—for the next 70 years. They raised money for Emmett Till’s mother (Till was the 14-year-old African American boy who was beaten to death for whistling at a white woman in 1955), attended the March on Washington, protested apartheid, and demonstrated for peace in the face of military engagement around the globe. They protested at hundreds of demonstrations, and over the years took in visitors from around the world who were also fighting for peace. It added up to two full-time jobs for each of them—one as passionate advocates for peace and justice, combined with their other full-time jobs—her career as a librarian and his as a professor of microbiology.


Interview conducted, taped, and edited by Ruth Sergel

Awards Ceremony

Awards Ceremony Introduction by Breena Clarke and acceptance by Priscilla Bassett. Video by Antony Wong


Posters about the honorees are by students from The Imagine Society, where young leaders work with adult mentors to help make the world a better place.

Mae Jones (6th grade) made this poster about Priscilla Bassett

[Click image to enlarge.]